In the HIV-1 integrase coding region there is a polypurine tract (PPT) involved in the initiation of provirus plus-strand synthesis. Upstream of this PPT there is a 15-nucleotide inverted repeat (IR) complementary to most of the PPT. We have constructed one mutant with five amino acid-neutral U to C and A to G changes in the IR and one mutant with corresponding amino acid-neutral changes in the PPT. Each set of changes abolished the complementarity and suppressed the replication of HIV-1 slightly. The combination of these ten changes restored the complementarity, and doubled the calculated free energy of the putative duplex between the IR and the PPT. This double mutant did not replicate under normal conditions, possibly because the reverse transcriptase was unable to penetrate the duplex. However, when high loads of the double mutant were added to permissive cells, replicative HIV did occasionally appear. The resurrected virus harvested from these cells replicated consistently, even though the ten nucleotide changes were left unchanged. There were no compensatory mutations in the vicinity of the IR/PPT or in the reverse transcriptase gene.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 1, 1999
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